Brown University Library Special Collections

Archive for the ‘General Interest’ Category

Items of general interest for the Brown University community.

South Africa Catalyst Project

Posted by [email protected] on April 25, 2014

20140425South Africa Catalyst Project Graphic

April 27, 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation from 1948 through 1994. Apartheid became an international issue and a prominent topic for human rights activists around the world and in South Africa. Apartheid famously came to an end with the election of Nelson Mandela to South Africa’s presidency in 1994.

20140425South Africa Catalyst Project CoverThroughout its existence apartheid inspired a lot of analysis in the U.S. and is well represented in archival collections here at Brown. The item highlighted in this post, a handbook from The South Africa Catalyst Project is from the Hall Hoag Collection of Extremist and Dissenting Propaganda. The South Africa Catalyst Project was formed in 1977 in Palo Alto, California. The SACP focused on the investment policies of Stanford University and in turn US investment policies in apartheid South Africa. They aimed to pressure organizations that were financially supportive of South Africa to change their policies and put an end to apartheid. Under the leadership of Chris Hables Graym the SACP also provided information and tips for others attempting to start groups in their own universities and communities. The group disbanded in 1982. The handbook includes: background on apartheid, the history of the student movement, case studies, approaches for stopping apartheid, lists of companies investing in the pro-apartheid government and lists of organizations working to stop apartheid.

The Gordon Hall and Grace Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda contains printed organizational literature (largely pamphlets and leaflets), with smaller numbers of photos, audio–visual items, manuscripts, and monographs published by fringe and extreme groups from the right and the left. The Hall Hoag Collection spans the political spectrum and constitutes the country’s largest research collection of right and left wing U.S. extremist groups in the 20th century.

More information about: the Hall-Hoag Collection.

More information about: The South Africa Catalyst Project.

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Student Life exhibit at Maddock Alumni Center

Posted by Jennifer Betts on May 23, 2013

Faunce (e)In a continuing effort to showcase student life at Brown University, the University Archives has created an exhibit of photographs and museum objects in the lobby of the Maddock Alumni Center.

Since Brown University was founded in 1764, student life has undergone dramatic social, academic, cultural, and political changes. The exhibit provides a glimpse of student life through a variety of photographs, a fan and dance card from 1914, a mug from 1942, a freshman beanie from 1958, and a commemorative Faunce House mail box.

Collecting and preserving a diverse and fascinating student history is part of the mission of the University Archives. The University Archives welcomes donations from alumni who have historical materials on student life that can be preserved and made available to future students and researchers. Please contact the University Archives at [email protected] or (401) 863-2148 for additional information.

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Special Collections Senior Open House, May 22, 3 pm - 5 pm

Posted by Jennifer Betts on May 22, 2013

Bicycle club 1886The John Hay Library will host a Senior Open House on May 22, 3 pm – 5 pm. On display will be Orwell’s 1984, The Great Gatsby (first-edition), Vesalius (first-edition), Copernicus (first-edition), Shakespeare’s First Folio, Kelmscott Chaucer, Eliot’s Bible, Newton’s Principia (first-edition, first printing), Double Elephant folio volume of Audubon’s The Birds of America, Dance of Death bound in human skin, and artists books. University Archives will feature photographs of dorms, classes, buildings, and athletics, and humor publication the Brown Jug. The Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection will display 6,000 miniature soldiers.

The Hay’s Senior Open House follows on the heels of Professor Jane Lancaster’s 2 pm lecture on the history of Brown students’ college experience. The lecture will be in the Petteruti Lounge, Faunce House.

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ATTN: Faculty and Students, Special Collections Deadline Approaching!

Posted by Jennifer Betts on March 15, 2013

The Brown University Library is excited to announce the launching of the John Hay Library renovation project. Revitalization of this historic landmark will include a refurbishment of the magnificent first floor reading room into an open, welcoming study space for students; the creation of a new state-of-the-art special collections reading room in the area which formerly housed University Archives; improvements to the service and exhibit areas in the Central Hall of the first floor; addition of a student lounge and conference room; handicapped access to the front of the Library and code compliance and fire safety improvements throughout the building.

To accommodate the extensive work involved in the renovation, the John Hay Library will close beginning June 1, 2013, and will remain closed through the duration of the construction project until Fall 2014. During the construction project, there will be no access to the building, and access to Special Collections & Archives materials by faculty, students, and other researchers will be limited.

We will be able to pull a limited amount of Special Collections & Archives materials from the Hay Library stacks prior to the Library’s closing on June 1, 2013. These materials will be shelved elsewhere temporarily for access by classes and researchers during the renovation period. We are asking faculty and others to help us identify Special Collections & Archives materials that will be needed during the period that the Library will be closed. This input must be provided no later than April 5, 2013.

Specifically, faculty who will be teaching a course during Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 that will utilize Hay Library materials must contact the Library at [email protected] by April 5, 2013.

Also, graduate students or undergraduate honors thesis students planning to do research using Special Collections & Archives materials during this period (June 2013 thru Fall 2014) must contact the Library at [email protected] by April 5, 2013.

Please note that any Special Collections & Archives materials located at the Library Collections Annex (as denoted in the Josiah catalog record) will continue to be available throughout the renovation period. These materials may be used at the Annex (10 Park Lane, Providence) or requested for use on campus.

A temporary special collections reading area will be established in the Rockefeller Library to consult Special Collections & Archives materials retrieved from the Annex or that have been requested in advance of the Hay Library’s temporary closing. In addition, the Library encourages use of its digitized Signature Collections (selected Special Collections materials which have been digitized for public use) during the renovation period.

The John Hay Library renovation project is scheduled to be completed by the start of the Fall 2014 semester. With the capable guidance of Seldorf Architects, known for their elegant treatment in designing and renovating cultural institutions, the renewal of this space not only will fulfill important scholarly and programmatic needs of the Library and campus. The project’s completion also will serve to honor the John Hay Library’s founding donor, Andrew Carnegie, whose philanthropy was intended to do “real and permanent good,” benefitting Brown both today and tomorrow. We are most grateful to our generous donors for making this wonderful project possible. The results promise to be a space that will better protect and service the Library’s unique Special Collections, and open both the Library and its collections to inspire Brown students today and for generations to come.

We greatly appreciate the cooperation of all Brown faculty and students and other researchers and friends of the Hay during the period that the Library will be closed. We will provide regular updates on the progress of the John Hay Library renovation throughout the project. Additional information will be available at the project web site (coming soon).

Contact: Daniel O’Mahony

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Fleurs des Tranchées = Trench Flowers

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on March 12, 2013

It arrived on my desk one morning.  A handmade scrapbook labeled Correspondances Militaires, 1916-1917 covered in paper the color of the French military uniform – bleu horizon.  Each letter was carefully pasted along one edge to a thin strip of paper.  Each letter was written to Emile Toulouse from his brothers Eugène and Jean and a smattering of friends and cousins.  They all served France during World War I.  Emile served as a firefighter in Paris.  Eugène served in the infantry.  Jean served with the artillery.

The most important function of war time letters is simply to assure family and friends that one is still in this world.  Eugène writes at the beginning of almost every letter and card exactly the same sentence:  “Je suis toujours en bonne santé et désire que ma lettre te trouve de même. = I am still in good health and hope that my letter finds you the same.”  The fact that Eugène wrote that for over 2.5 years (March 1915 until November 1917) while serving in the trenches in France is remarkable.  In the optimistic early days of 1915, he gathered flowers from each of the trenches.

Flowers collected in the trenches by Eugene Toulouse, 1915

By December 29, 1916, Eugène’s spirits were flagging and for good reason.  Below is a translated excerpt from that letter.

“ . . . From time to time here at this Compagnie de Dépôt we are almost as brutally treated as you are, and twice I was almost thrown in jail without any reason. You better believe it’s harsh to be treated that way especially because it’s possible that in one week we will have our pants on fire and our feet freeze. I am beginning to believe that we will never beat them although you know my morale was pretty high.  I can’t wait for the escape.”

[Translation by Dominique Coulombe, Senior Scholarly Resources Librarian]

To read that letter and all the others in this diminutive but interesting scrapbook visit the John Hay Library and request the Toulouse Family Correspondence (Ms.2012.017).

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Celebrating Emancipation

Posted by [email protected] on January 15, 2013

Transparency displayed in Philadelphia to celebrate emancipation in Maryland

January 1, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the document now known as the Emancipation Proclamation.  Though its title suggests a simple executive order issued by the President, in fact the Emancipation Proclamation had a complex and fascinating evolution that is worthy of further discussion.  Bookseller and bibliographer Charles Francis Eberstadt set out to document its printing history, and in 1950 published a bibliography of every print copy of the proclamation made during the Civil War that he had identified, back to the first Cabinet discussions of the Preliminary Proclamation of Emancipation in July 1862.  Once Lincoln and his Cabinet finalized the text of the preliminary Proclamation of Emancipation, copies of the text were immediately printed in the leading newspapers the following day — September 23, 1862.  Plain text copies were also separately printed at the State Department, first for high level goverment officials and diplomats overseas who would have need of it, and then for the official State Department folio record.  The War Department had it printed, as General Order No. 139, for distribution to Union officers in the field.  A few privately issued copies were also printed, notably in Ohio and Massachusetts, between October and December of 1862.  But all of these early printings produced only the text of the proclamation.  After January 1, 1863, celebrations of the end of slavery began in earnest, and printings of the Emancipation Proclamation began to take on a growing range of decorative elements, some quite large and elaborate, others smaller and intended to be kept sedately carried in a pocket.  Eberstadt was kind enough to provide a set of photstats of all of the copies of the Emancipation Proclamation he had identified to the Hay Library for its McLellan Lincoln Collection, to supplement our large collection of original decorative printings.  These materials are available to interested researchers, both at the Hay Library and online in our Lincoln Broadsides collection.


William H. Pratt's calligraphic Emancipation Proclamation as a portrait of Lincoln (Eberstadt 40)

Emancipation Proclamation by Rufus Blanchard (Chicago 1864)

Pocket edition of Emancipation Proclamation with decorations (Eberstadt 18 variant)

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Money, Money, Money!

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on January 14, 2013

A collection of Rhode Island currency and fiscal documents was recently donated by Cynthia Frost (Vice President and Chief Investment Officer at Brown) in memory of her father Michael Freezy Frost, who collected the materials during his lifetime.  The Frost Currency collection (Ms.2012.031) contains examples of 26 pieces of currency, of varying types, issued in Rhode Island between 1775 to 1929, one bank note issued in Delaware in 1759, and 5 documents related to the fiscal history of 18th century Rhode Island.

Front of Rhode Island 20 Dollar bill, 1780

Back of Rhode Island 20 Dollar bill, 1780

This 20 Dollar bill was issued in 1780 and is a promissory note from the State of Rhode Island.  which promised to pay the bearer the principal plus 5% interest every year in 6 years.  The note was then traded like money for goods and services. Whoever possessed the note at the end of the 6-year term collected the principal and all the interest.  Notice the offset text on the left side of the bill, the original signatures and the unique handwritten number, all of which were meant to frustrate counterfeiters.  The back adds offset text in red and a woodcut image which would be very difficult to reproduce exactly.

Rhode Island 6 Pence bill, 1786

The State of Rhode Island also issued money.  The Six Pence bill was issued in 1786 and is printed on only one side.  No interest accrues with this bill, it is solely meant as a medium of exchange.


Front of Roger Williams National Bank of Providence 10 Dollar bill, 1865

Back of Roger Williams National Bank of Providence 10 Dollar bill, 1865

Banks got into the business of printing money in the 1840s and they chose the images and style of the bills.  The image of Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity with his kite was clearly so well known by 1865 that it needed no caption on this 10 Dollar bill.  The back of the bill shows DeSoto discovering the Mississippi.  Perhaps the choice of that image was meant to create solidarity within the United States again since that area of the country had so recently been prevented from seceding.

To learn more about this collection visit the John Hay Library.

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Many Pigs of Many Pens

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on November 15, 2012

Upon first glance it seems that people in 1908 have no idea how to draw, let alone produce a successful image of a pig.And then you look more closely at the poem at the beginning of the book and it becomes clear.  They are drawing these pigs blindfolded.

This volume, Guest Book : Many Pigs of Many Pens, was published in 1902 as a playful alternative to a traditional guest book.  In conventional guest books, visitors were expected to sign their name and contribute a poem, sketch, quote, or witticism.  The purpose of this guest book explains the statement on the cover – “A Pig in Time Saves a Rhyme.”This copy was given as a present to John Nicholas Brown II (1900-1979) in 1908.  The first image above shows the eight-year-old’s attempt at a pig.  It is one of many items in the Natalie Bayard Brown papers (Ms.2007.011) at the John Hay Library.

Mrs. Natalie Bayard Dresser Brown was the wife of John Nicholas Brown (1861-1900) and the mother of John Nicholas Brown II (1900-1979).  Her papers reflect her active involvement in the many Brown family businesses, the Democratic Party during the 1930s, and numerous charitable causes through correspondence with family and friends, writings and speeches, scrapbooks, and photographs.

The elder John Nicholas died of typhoid fever 2 months after the birth of his son followed soon after by the death of his brother Harold Brown. Those tragic events made John Nicholas Brown II the heir to the Brown family fortune and he was dubbed the “richest baby in America.”  The John Nicholas Brown II papers (Ms.2007.012) contain a wealth of material on the visual arts, art collections and collecting activities, and public service at the state, national and international levels, as well as the history of Brown University and the State of Rhode Island during the twentieth century.

Both of those collections, and many others related to the Brown family, can be viewed at the John Hay Library.

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John Hay Library: Focus on Special Collections-Audubon

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on November 5, 2012

Between noon and 1pm on November 14th, staff from the John Hay Library will be turning pages in one volume of John James Audubon’s masterwork The Birds of America. Please join us in the Lownes Room on the second floor of the John Hay Library.

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Reading Room Closing Early on Wednesday October 24th

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on October 23, 2012

Due to a scheduled event, the Reading Room of the John Hay Library will close at 4pm on Wednesday October 24th.  While the building will remain open until 6 pm, there will be no access to the collections.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

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